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TRAFIG Practice Note No. 6: Out-of-camp but not out of mind: Supporting Syrian refugees in Jordan’s cities

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The Syrian displacement crisis is entering its tenth year. Over one million Syrians have settled in Jordan, the majority of whom live in urban and peri-urban areas, others in Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps. A lot of attention has gone to the challenges faced by in-camp refugees, but those based in cities and rural areas are vulnerable in ways that also need attention. With no end in sight to the Syrian crisis, bolstering support for out-ofcamp refugees could make a difference in the lives of more than 80 per cent of Syrians in Jordan.

From the start of their displacement to Jordan, Syrians’ general movement was either out of or in avoidance of the refugee camps and into the urban and peri-urban areas. Camps offer benefits including housing, water, and electricity; but Jordan’s Syrian refugee camps are associated with lower social status and poorer conditions as well as high levels of governmental surveillance. Syrians rely on family networks to resettle from refugee camps to urban areas, if not also during their displacement from Syria and into Jordan. However, family networks alone have not resolved the need for durable solutions to protracted displacement even in urban settings. Our findings based on research with 500 Syrian refugees show:

Out-of-camp refugees have more network ties within and beyond Jordan and have little to no intention of ever returning to Syria

Out-of-camp refugees are very well connected translocally and transnationally. Immediate family of urban Syrians are often dispersed within Jordan and across the world. Besides their home country, Syrian refugees’ transnational connections include family ties to North America and Europe, the Gulf countries and other Middle Eastern countries. Only few (11%) of our survey respondents (living inside and outside of camps) had intentions of returning permanently to Syria. This means that both urban and camp-based refugees are most likely to remain permanently in Jordan. Among those who are living outside of camps, however, existing family networks to other countries might pave the way for future onward mobility. Enabling transnational relations may increase potential income streams, mobility and asylum options that in the longer term could offset reduction in aid to Syrian refugees and ease the strain on host countries such as Jordan.